Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Brian Hart

GAINESVILLE STATE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS. Gainesville State School for Girls was established in 1913 as a home for delinquent and dependent girls. Girls between the ages of eight and seventeen are sent to the institution by court order. The school, originally called the Texas State Training School for Girls, was authorized by the Thirty-third Legislature, which appropriated $25,000 for construction. Under the direction of its first superintendent, Dr. Carrie Weaver Smith (1916–25), the school sought to rehabilitate delinquent girls and stressed "character building, formation of habits of self-control and stability, better understanding of spiritual values and . . . an ability to cope with present social conditions," as well as providing an education emphasizing vocational skills.

The school, located on a 160-acre tract just east of Gainesville, began with four dormitories and a superintendent's residence. By 1948, when enrollment reached 198, it took on its present name. At that time the campus included seven brick cottages, five frame houses for the families of staff members, and a number of other buildings including a gymnasium, a hospital, a school building with a cafeteria and an auditorium, a beauty parlor, and a laundry. From the beginning the school has been relatively self-sufficient; food for the girls and staff is grown on 100 to 160 acres.

The Fifty-fifth Legislature transferred control of the school from the State Board of Control to the Texas Youth Council (now the Texas Youth Commissionqv). By the mid-1960s 364 students attended the Gainesville institution, and in the early 1970s 390 girls were enrolled. Extensive renovation of existing facilities and construction of new facilities, including a security-treatment cottage, made the school "one of the finest training institutions for delinquent females in America." In 1991 the Gainesville State School for Girls housed 257 students, and Jerry Day was the superintendent.

Dotti Conner, "A World of Her Own," Texas Parade, September 1965. Gainesville Daily Register, August 30, 1948. A. Morton Smith, The First 100 Years in Cooke County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1955). Texas State Board of Control, Report.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Brian Hart, "GAINESVILLE STATE SCHOOL FOR GIRLS," accessed July 22, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox